Let’s see…we left Paul hanging off a cliff in Lystra. The crowd is trying to make P & B out to be Greek gods. Enter the Jews who had followed them over from Antioch and Iconium. These guys have a different view and they talk the locals into stoning them. My, my how quickly the whims of people change.
So in fact Paul is stoned and dragged out of the city. The rebel rousers think they have killed Paul so they dust off their hands and go home.
But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.
In Derbe P & B preached the Gospel just like nothing bad had happened! Many people became disciples. Praise God for a positive day! This was the end of the trip so they turned around and headed home right back the way they had come – through every town – the ones who were friendly and the ones who were not!
People had believed all along the way and this was not the Salvation Bible Bus – “drag’em in, get’em saved and walk away.” Here while the good news was fresh, Paul and Barnabas were looking for fruit that remained.
So they set about strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of god. And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
They returned home to Antioch. By the Grace of God, they had fulfilled the work for which they had been appointed by the Holy Spirit. The Debrief must have been thrilling as P & B told the church everything God had done with them and how God had opened the door to the Gentiles.
They were ready for some R ‘n’ R and remained with the church there for a long time.
Perseverance is the first thing that comes to mind. P & B met every kind of obstacle – some up (how would you like to be a god?) and some down (kill him!) But they stayed on mission – and both tasks of the mission at that.
Follow up – it was not enough that the Gospel was received but it was important to organize churches and strengthen the new converts in their faith. Set up a community where they could grow and support each other. Times were going to be tough. Their new faith would be tested.
Glory – All the glory went to God. They saw themselves as His instruments. They did not take credit for all the good stuff nor did they elevate their own trials into some drama that distracted from God (as we are want to do.)
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us is the encouragement found in Hebrews. I believe I have been commissioned and so has anyone else who follows Jesus. We are to take off on that course and run until the task is fulfilled. None of us can do that without the support of our community of believers. So we must strengthen, encourage and pray for each other. I want to run by His grace and for His Glory!
The course has a few water hazards and sand traps but His grace is sufficient.
“By His Grace and For His Glory” – I’m thinking new t-shirt!
About the World?
There is always an open door of faith – walk right in.